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The Book of Leviticus is a part of the Pentateuch

The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Bible and subsequently of the Pentateuch and the Old Testament. Leviticus is the primary biblical source for the laws of the Hebrew Nation of Israel. It is also called “Vayikra” in Hebrew. While it was the prime source for Israel’s laws, it was not a legal codex. Rather it was a set of laws, that were dictated in speech by God and recorded by Moses[1]. The laws within the book covered all areas of life most notably: sacrifices, food, health, sexual conduct, property and priestly procedures. In addition Leviticus contains a few instances of narrative, describing the obedience or disobedience to the books’ laws.


Leviticus was written by Moses, primarily to record the exact dictation of Israel's laws by God[1]. Many, if not all of the laws were recorded on Mount Sinai[2]. Since the laws have a seemingly sporadic order it is likely that Moses wrote them down exactly as he heard. In various sessions God called Moses up to Mount Sinai and during these sessions God would dictate the laws. It is not known how God chose the order to dictate the laws. Laws may have been revealed throughout several weeks, days or even hours. The laws on the various offerings and the laws in between these were all revealed in a singular day[3], probably through multiple sessions of revelation (hence the separate indications of God saying the law)

While Moses acted as God's scribe, many of the laws had a specific audience that they needed to be delivered to. Several times Moses is specifically instructed to tell all of the Israelites a law[4]. Moses is also told to give laws for Aaron and his sons. Many of the laws were given to both Moses and Aaron at the same time, which means Aaron was present for some of God's dictation[5]. While these laws would have applied to Aaron and his sons literally, it was also a figurative expression that implied his descendants- the Tribe of Levi.

The few historical events in Leviticus would have been written by Moses sometime during or after they occurred. Since historical events are embedded right after many laws, Moses likely wrote both the revelation of dictation and events chronologically. Some of the events would have occurred after Moses had been given certain laws, but not before others.


Recorded Laws

Not a Legal Codex

For the most part, Leviticus is a book of a recorded laws. It is not a legal codex, but it is a recorded collection of God's dictation of the laws. Typically a legal codex would have a strict organization and consistent structure of the laws. In contrast the laws in Leviticus do not cover their rules continuously. Leviticus was written in the order in which it was revealed. Certain laws are placed "randomly" (the reason for order is unknown) and others have laws in between. Instead of certain laws being described continously, part of it is given and then it picks up later on.


At its core, this book its a chronological collection of speech. Leviticus itself attests to the fact that the majority of the content is the dictation of laws in written form[1]. The laws themselves and their wording are created and spoken directly by God. Moses specifically denotes that God spoke the words that were written, in order to attest their origin. It should be noted that Leviticus is not one continuous set of dictation revealed in one setting. Rather it is a set of several different dictations of speech. While the book is a collection of dictation, God Himself calls His words laws[6]. Moses calls God's words laws as well, oftentimes to recap what a law was for or if God did not specifically call them such[7].

Historical Account

Leviticus contains a few historical account and could be understood as a collection of laws with a loose narrative framework. Leviticus is likely chronological in the order of the laws being revealed. Some of the laws contain certain historical details, such as the day it was revealed[8].There also small lines located in various places that tell the reader that the law was obeyed[9]

The small amount of historical narratives are primarily about certain laws being implemented and executed by the Priesthood for the first time. They go through laws, specification by specification and entail how they were followed exactly. There are two exceptions to this, but both of these are primarily dialogue about laws needing to be followed. The first exception was the death of Nadab and Abihu, who unlawfully gave offerings[10].

This account contains something God said that was not recorded anywhere in the Pentateuch[11]. This account also contains God revealing a new rule for priests not to drink alcohol when they enter the Holy place[12]. Otherwise the account is dialogue between Aaron and Moses on the sons being rightfully punished according to God's law[13].

The other account contains basic historical information about someone blaspheming God's name[14]. It also records God's verdict and the respective law is given for the punishment of death[15].


Be Holy

Promise Land of Canaan



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Leviticus 1:1, 4:1, 5:14, 6:1, 6:8, 6:19, 6:24, 7:22, 7:28, 8:1, 11:1, 12:1, 13:1, 14:1, 14:33, 15:1, 16:2, 17:1, 18:1, 19:1, 20:1, 21:1, 21:16, 22:1, 22:17, 22:26, 23:1, 23:9, 23:23, 23:26, 23:33, 24:1, 24:3, 25:1, 27:1
  2. Lev 7:38, 25:1,26:46, 27:34, (Link)
  3. Lev 7:38 (Link)
  4. Lev 12:2, 4:2, 7:23, 7:29, 11:2, 12:2, 15:2, 17:2 (Link)
  5. Lev 6:9, 6:25, 11:1, 13:1, 13:2, 14:33, 15:1, 16:2, 17:2, 21:17, 22:2 (Link)
  6. Lev 6:9, 6:14, 6:25, 7:1, 7:11, 11:46, 12:7, 14:2, 14:54, 14:57, 7:7,, 18:4-5, 18:26, 19:37, 20:22, 24:22, 25:18, 26:15, 26:43, (Link)
  7. Lev 7:37, 13:59, 13:54-57, 14:32, 15:32-33, 26:46 (Link)
  8. Lev 7:38 (Link)
  9. Lev 21:24, 23:44 (Link)
  10. Lev 10:1-2 (Link)
  11. Lev 10:3 (Link)
  12. Lev 10:8-10 (Link)
  13. Lev 10:4-6,12-20 (Link)
  14. Lev 24:10-12 (Link)
  15. Lev 24:12-22 (Link)


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